This is Beth. If you have been involved in Nonprofit Technology over the past few years, you have probably heard of her or been influenced in some way by her research and writing. Last year, while I was shooting a conference in California, she contacted me to take some headshots for her latest book. As a world traveler and speaker, she has amassed a lovely collection of outfits, and our shoot turned into a series of "Beth Around The Globe"! Special thanks to Steve Fisher for assisting on this shoot.
I am a terrible marketer, but I love talking to people. I'm going to use this idea to begin a brief brainstorm right in front of you, dear reader, that might help all of us become better photographers (or whatever your profession is) and help us all contribute to social good while earning a right livelihood.
Now, I am not a nonprofit, but I work with them and sit on the board of one at the moment. Using Beth's "Networked nonprofit" concept (albeit bastardizing it a bit to apply it to a solo-photographer business model), I am trying to conceive of ways to build my personal photography business. I am not a landscape photographer, and rarely an art photographer. I take photos of people. Therefore I need to talk to people! I love documenting social events and being asked to take portraits of individuals and organizations at work.
I need "in"s. I need invitations. You can walk up and down a street all day taking portraits of strangers, but it will be a long time before that builds into a paying business. Those people need to begin asking YOU to take their photo.
And my best connections always come from personal references and meetings. The blind email query works sometimes, but it's rare.
|Here is Kenya Beth! I loved this outfit. Note that I stuck with a white backdrop for all of these. One outfit, coming up, is all white, and so we had to do that one last, by moving indoors with a different light setup.|
In the description of her book, The Networked Nonprofit, Beth states that:
Networked Nonprofits are simple and transparent organizations. They are easy for outsiders to get in and insiders to get out. They engage people to shape and share their work in order to raise awareness of social issues, organize communities to provide services or advocate for legislation. In the long run, they are helping to make the world a safer, fairer, healthier place to live.
- By being honest about the level of service and quality of work that I can offer ("Sure, I can be available to shoot a series about livestock. I need to remind you, though, that I work primarily with humans, and would need some assistance by someone skilled with sheep-wrangling.");
- By being upfront about what I need to charge for a shoot ("I'd love to work within your budget. Unfortunately, I can't go much less than $X, because I need to cover my operating costs.");
- Be being upfront about my intentions when networking ("Yes, I'm a photographer, and, by the way, I am expanding my clientele, and would love to work with you");
- By inviting my clients to take an active role in our shoots ("Can you provide an assistant from your community, someone who knows the subjects I'll be working with?").
- By allowing my images, whether commissioned or personal, to be used by nonprofits and quality organizations to further their causes;
- By offering discounts and trades to nonprofits and organizations that support causes that I believe in.
- By specifically searching out individuals and organizations whom I support, and pitching directly to them.
I have a copy of "Measuring The Networked Nonprofit", which brandishes a tiny little 1/2 inch square version of the first photo on this blog post. That was my first author photo on a book cover. Of course I bought a copy of the book when it came out (now I at least ask for a couple of copies as part of my contract when an author wishes to use my images). The social media aspect of the book seems foreign and unreachable to me at times, but nuggets have helped encourage me to become more active on Facebook, amongst other outlets. Twitter is still a distant tool for me, but perhaps someday I'll cave to it.
Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, she writes often of working for the social good. It's honestly very challenging for any of us to donate time, money, or energy, or even dedicate brainpower to the larger societal picture, when we are not making a decent living.
In the past year, I have tried very hard to focus primarily on photography, struggle as it is to have a consistent income, and not revert to working on non-beneficial odd jobs. The odd job still has its place...the day of comfortable middle-class-ness is still a ways off for me, but I am working towards it, pulling up on those bootstraps (or slipperstraps, since I often work from my home office), thumbing my nose at the "economic downturn", and dedicating much thought to building my personal life in conjunction with supporting a world that I want to live in.
In an interview on Fast Company's Co.Exist site, she states that:
If you are either cash poor and time rich or cash rich and time poor, it is important to give. Giving your time to help a nonprofit, whether you are helping to sort food at a local food bank or contributing your professional skills to a nonprofit, can have an enormous social impact. And it can be a rewarding experience.Yes, I know. I will do more. On the financial down-season, it is tough to feel confident enough financially to even leave the house sometimes, but I'll do more of it. For social good and for myself.
|And of course, there is Death Star Beth. Can't forget her.|